Saudi rulers, seeing Bashar Assad on the verge of defeating the opposition to his rule, are reported by DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources as taking a hand in turning al Qaeda Iraqi cells loose against him. Saudi agents used their pull with Iraqi Sunnis to persuade al Qaeda leaders that Assad and his Alawite regime were their most dangerous foe.
The same message was also broadcast by their Pakistan-based leader Ayman al Zuweiri.
Al Qaeda strength was fast building up in Syria, say US intelligence agencies tracking the jihadists’ Middle East movements – ten days before Zawahri Sunday, Feb. 11 issued his videotaped instruction to all combat strength in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to converge on the Syrian battlefield.
Monday, Iraq’s acting interior minister Adnan al-Assadi confirmed that “a number of jihadists had gone to Syria,” reporting also that the price of weapons in Mosul had risen because they were being sent to the opposition in Syria “from Baghdad to Nineveh [province].”
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources estimate that the bulk of the 1,500-strong Iraq-based al Qaeda network– Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Mauritanians, Pakistanis, Lebanese and Palestinians – have headed to Syria. This accounts for the sharp drop in terrorist attacks inside Iraq